“The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex & Power” – by Richard Foster
Book Review (Peter Byon)
MONEY. SEX. POWER.
Many if not most of our challenges, when distilled to their essence, are rooted in one or more of these three issues. Our Lord taught a great deal on money, sex and power, and in this season of ‘crossing over’, renewed holiness and casting down idols, we would do well to begin with these interrelated areas.
Which is why this book is of such importance. Richard Foster, modern Christendom’s favorite Quaker, has given us in his usual easy-to-read, easy-to-swallow style a resource that masterfully covers each topic with remarkable clarity, insight and practicality.
…for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. (2 Peter 2:19)
…but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Throughout the book, Foster’s primary aim is the celebration and restoration of God’s original intent and design – that which is gloriously good about money, sex and power – so that we, no matter how unique our circumstances, can walk in full freedom and enjoyment of His gifts and blessings. What’s more, he instructs us in the opposite spirit in which we must operate in order to have mastery over these areas. So, instead of greed, materialism and worry, we walk in simplicity. Instead of lust, immorality and broken marriages, we hold fast to fidelity. Instead of power-grabbing, broken relationships and abuse, we seek to serve.
However, what really sets Foster apart from most is not so much that he’s uncompromising in setting down the blacks and whites of biblical principles (which he is) – rather, it’s in his loving, sensitive application of these truths to the various shades of grey that seem to permeate our lives. Many books dealing with these topics can so easily miss the mark by naively laying down grossly insensitive, hard-and-fast rules for universal application. Instead of an all-or-nothing, fear-driven approach to dealing with sin issues and perversions relating to money, sex and power, Foster places his faith in the Holy Spirit’s power to help us navigate our myriad grey areas without running our ships into the rocks. Whether you are young, old, rich, poor, married, single, divorced, healthy, infirm, at the top of the totem pole, at the bottom, or somewhere in between, this book will edify and encourage you. In fact, books like this – which provide such relevant, life-giving and practical advice to even the murkiest of situations – are as rare as hen’s teeth.
In short: Most strongly recommended.
One caveat is that despite the clearly reverential, worshipful tone of the book, the section on sex is most definitely PG-13, at the very least. Although he writes with irreproachable taste and decency, he’s also extremely candid, and there are topics discussed and terminology used in this section that may discomfit the more squeamish among us.